Another of attorney-turned-hotelier Loh Lik Peng’s boutique properties (along with the New Majestic), Wanderlust is perhaps the quirkiest hotel in Singapore, taking guests on a fanciful journey that befits its name. The building opened in the 1920s as the Hong Wen Chinese School and later served as a settlement where Indian immigrants reared livestock. Its unchanged sober white facade with black shutters gives little hint of the outré interiors. Each of the four floors was fashioned by a different Singaporean design agency, resulting in various themes. In the lobby, an industrial-glam aesthetic manifests itself in an old-fashioned collapsible metal gate repainted in gold, a Frank Gehry–designed sofa, and seats made from recycled road signs by Australian Trent Jansen. Rooms on the Creature Comfort floor include Typewriter, where giant lettered arms reach out and up from a sofa with keyboard letters on the upholstery, while lanterns cast shadows of monsters along the corridors.
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Upon stepping out, visitors will feel like they're on the Indian subcontinent, surrounded by Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi businesses, restaurants, and people. Tekka Centre, at the corner of Buffalo and Serangoon roads, is one of the city’s best fresh-food markets and provides great photo ops. Farther up Serangoon Road, travelers encounter jewelers, textile shops, vegetarian South Indian restaurants, and roadside tailors and flower sellers. The neighborhood’s pulsing core is Mustafa Centre, a 24-hour superstore that sells everything from fresh Indian fenugreek and pomegranates to Sony laptops, Adidas sneakers, and Chinese medicated oils.
Need to Know
Rooms: 20 rooms, 9 suites. From $240. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:Cocotte supplies classic French in a casual setting—restored timber floors, old wine crates propped up on walls, a communal table under large Moooi chandelier. Spa and gym details:There is neither a gym nor a spa at the hotel.
Who’s it for: Gen Y travelers, artists, designers. Anyone in touch with their inner child. Our favorite rooms: The two-level, otherworldly Space rooms, in the Whimsical Lofts category, are intoxicatingly enveloped in darkness, with stars painted on the walls, a wonderfully kitschy fake rocket, and small alien soft toys. Good to know:Wanderlust has a good relationship with, and knowledge of, local businesses. The hotel hosts pop-ups for them in the lobby every month.